Anyone who has visited the doctor can understand how expensive medical services can be. Depending on the services provided, medical expenses can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Not everyone has insurance and even if a person is covered, it is not a guarantee that he or she isn’t going to have to pay a large amount for out-of-pocket expenses. If a person is unprepared to pay for the services rendered, there are options available for financing medical expenses.
Credit Cards Versus Doctor Financing Plans
When one is faced with the unexpected expense of medical bills, it can be frustrating and troublesome. Doctor’s offices will often accept credit card payments and some offer in-house financing. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. Each individual will need to decide which option is best for their personal situation.
The obvious advantage of using a credit card is that the doctor is paid right away. Since payment is usually expected at the time services are rendered, a credit card payment will ensure that there are no delays in treatment. Some credit cards even offer discounts for medical expenses. The downfall to using a credit card is that interest will be charged on the balance. A minimum credit card payment per month may mean hundreds or even thousands extra in interest. It could take years to pay the credit card balance.
Some doctor’s offices offer in-house financing that is often interest free. This is a convenient way to pay for medical services and a person choosing this option won’t have to worry about high interest that would otherwise make it difficult to pay off the balance. Payment plans are usually very affordable. The disadvantage to in-house financing is that the patient may be required to come up with a lump sum down-payment. This can be difficult for someone who doesn’t have a lot of cash on hand. Another concern is that if one is late with a payment, they may be charged a late payment fee or interest. This charge can be significant so it is best to ensure one has an affordable plan. If one stops making payments on care that involves ongoing treatment, the treatment may cease which may leave the patient with no other option other than to forgo vital medical care.
Financing for Medical Expenses Using Health Savings Account
A health savings account is coupled with one’s high deductible insurance plan. This is a tax-free savings plan that a person deposits money into. When the need arises, one may withdraw funds from their health savings account to pay for medical expenses. This is especially helpful when unexpected medical expenses arise. These accounts also earn interest. One disadvantage is that until the age of 64, any money left in the account will be added to gross income and taxed accordingly. Also, a high deductible insurance plan must be in place.
If one is concerned that they will not have enough money for unexpected medical expenses, another option would be to open a savings account to cover emergencies.
Each person needs to decide which option best fits their needs. Everyone’s situation is different. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages in order to make the best decision on how to finance medical expenses.